I am a recently hired young lady, and a coworker of mine is a young man a few years older than me. We sit relatively close by to each other in the office, close enough to turn around and have a conversation but far enough that we’re not next to each other. We work in separate but related fields but do not work together. Interactions are friendly and polite but professional above all.
A third co-worker, who is a much, much older man and has been here much longer than both of us, is friendly enough with everyone that he often goes around to say good morning to everybody. Nothing invasive and usually a simple “good morning”. Twice now on separate occasions he has successfully roped both of us into a conversation with him (again very harmless, first about sports, second about watches). On both occasions as the brief conversations died down he has asked my coworker what he thinks of my appearance. The first time it was, “Do you think X is beautiful?” and the second time, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how beautiful is X?” referring to me. This was immediately awkward for both of us.
Not only is this a professional office setting but there are least ~20 other people in adjacent cubicles that can hear all that is going on. I don't get paid to sit and hear people's opinions on my appearance nor do I want to. As much as office romances seem appealing in rom-coms, it is not something I am looking for right now and regardless of my availability it’s a very uncomfortable situation for both of us.
I just find it very awkward and unprofessional. I think this matchmaker-coworker thinks he’s being funny or actually doing a good thing and doesn’t seem to pick up on the awkwardness of the situation. I thought it was a one-time thing but since it’s happened again is there something I can say to diffuse the situation and spare us both the awkwardness if it happens a third time? Something like, “Thank you but a reply is not necessary”?
This is the first professional office I’ve worked in full time and I’d appreciate advice on how to handle this if it or a similar situation arises.
Update I found a chance to speak to the older employee 1 on 1. It was actually initiated by him as he approached me and brought up how uncomfortable the male employee gets when he asks him those kinds of questions. He treated the situation like a joke and I realized that it may not have been about me at all, but more of a “boys will be boys” situation. (not that I approve of that saying or mindset.) I hadn’t realized it at first, but this whole scenario could also have been a way for the older man to tease the younger man – albeit at my expense. He laughed about how the younger man became visibly uncomfortable/awkward as if he expected me to laugh along with him. I asked him kindly if he would mind not asking those questions anymore, without bringing up topics like professionalism and sexual harassment He continued to laugh about my coworker’s discomfort - again not seeming to pick up on the awkwardness of the situation - and told me that the two of them were friends as if to assure me that his teasing was alright. I requested again that he stop asking those kinds of questions specifically at work and finally offered that they make me uncomfortable and he finally agreed. Hopefully it will not happen again. I did not mention my own uncomfortableness as much as I probably should have, and he didn’t treat the situation with the gravity that I was looking for, continuing to joke that he would only ask those kinds of questions when they were out at the bar.
He then proceeded to assure me that “despite what X says, I think you’re the prettiest girl here” as if he expected me to be offended that my coworker did not respond out loud to his questions about my appearance. This kind of reinforces the idea that he expected me to be flattered by his questions/offended at my coworker’s lack of response, and doesn’t understand how he is making it awkward etc. etc. Again it was said in a very kind manner, I did not feel encroached upon or creeped out. I do believe he means the compliments, he just has a very old-fashioned (for lack of better words) manner of getting them across. I told him thank you and received final assurance from him that he would stop asking about my appearance in the office. I appreciate everyone’s answers and advice and despite his jovial attitude I do believe I got my message across.